National Green Tribunal

National Green Tribunal: The Principal Bench of National Green Tribunal (‘NGT’) initiated suo motu proceedings in the light of media report captioned “3 minors among 11 dead in Ludhiana gas leak, Punjab govt. announces Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia”. The three-member Bench of Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson), Sudhir Agarwal (Judicial Member) and Dr. A. Senthil Vel (Expert Member), directed the District Magistrate (‘DM’), Ludhiana, to ensure payment of compensation of Rs. 20 Lakhs to heirs of the deceased.

In the matter at hand, an incident of gas leakage took place on 30-04-2023 in Giaspur area of Ludhiana, which caused death of 11 persons including 3 minors. Another media report of 02-05-2023, suggested that hydrogen sulphide could have led to the incident. It was also suggested that the said gas could be from the industrial waste dumped in the sewage line.

The Tribunal said that it has previously dealt with incidents of deaths and injuries on account of violation of environmental norms by the States and private entities and has awarded compensation to of Rs. 20 Lakhs to the heirs of the victim and injured, depending on the cases.

The Tribunal considered the news reports and constituted an eight-member fact-finding Joint Committee to be headed by Chairman, Pollution Control Board, Punjab State (‘State PCB’). The Tribunal also recommended other members of the Committee including the Regional Director (North), Central Pollution Control Board; Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, Lucknow; Nominee of Director, Post Graduation Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh; Nominee of National Disaster Response Force, DM, Ludhiana and Commissioner of Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana. The Tribunal directed the State PCB to act as nodal agency for coordination and compliance. The Committee was directed to submit its report before the Tribunal on 30-06-2023, along with details of the deceased and injured persons. It was also directed to recommend measures to avoid such incidents in the future.

The Tribunal also directed the DM, Ludhiana to ensure payment of compensation of Rs. 20 Lakhs to the heirs of the 11 deceased, deducting the amounts paid by the State Government as compensation, within the period of one month.

[In re: News item published in India Today dated 30.04.2023 titled “3 minors among 11 dead in Ludhiana gas leak, Punjab govt. announces Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia”, 2023 SCC OnLine NGT 166, Order Dated: 02-05-2023]

Coram: Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Justice Sudhir Agarwal, Dr. A. Senthil VEL

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